Fayette County

Whooping cough confirmed at a second Lexington high school

A case of whooping cough has been confirmed at Frederick Douglass High School, the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department said Friday.

It’s the second confirmed case of whooping cough, or pertussis, in Fayette County this school year and the eighth case in Lexington in 2019.

Parents were notified of a case of whooping cough at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School Sept. 30.

Students who were exposed to whooping cough and who have a chronic illness or weakened immune system need to take preventive antibiotics, the health department said. It also recommends antibiotics for exposed students who live with an infant, pregnant woman, someone who has a chronic illness or someone with a weakened immune system.

Pertussis is highly contagious and is spread by coughing and sneezing. It is most serious for infants and people with chronic diseases, according to the health department.

Early symptoms of whooping cough are similar to those of a cold, including sneezing, coughing, runny nose and low-grade fever. The cough often becomes much worse after a week or two.

Children who show symptoms should see a health care provider and stay home from school, even if they have had the vaccine, the health department said.

The pertussis vaccine is required for school-age children, and a dose of the booster Tdap vaccine is recommended for those ages 11 and up.

“Although the vaccine is effective, immunity tends to decrease over time, making the booster important for older children and adults,” the health department said in a news release.